Interview with Lisa McMann, author of Wake and Fade

So excited for this interview!  Please welcome Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of Wake and its sequel, Fade, which comes out February 10th.  Check out my book review of Wake as well as the book trailer and then come back here for an awesome interview!

Maw Books: Welcome Lisa.  First, what were you like as a young reader?  And when did you know that you wanted to write?

Lisa McMann: I was a voracious reader — several books a week.  I first decided to be a writer when I was in 4th grade.

Maw Books:  I’m always interested in knowing how authors come up with their ideas.  For Wake you dreamed that you were watching your husband’s dream.  How weird is that!?  Seriously though, what was he dreaming about?  Inquiring minds really want to know. :)

Lisa McMann: I’ll never tell. :D

Maw Books:  I had a feeling you wouldn’t.  But it was worth the try right?  Wake is all the rave. What are you thinking or feeling about reader reaction to this book?

Lisa McMann: When an author’s book comes out, it is a most stressful time. The reaction can make or break a debut author’s career, so the pressure is huge.  Enormous.  After working so hard, the book comes out and suddenly the author has lost all control of her career — it’s out of her hands.  She is at the mercy of the readers.

I was truly overwhelmed that people loved WAKE.  Not all people, mind you, and isn’t that always the case?  Especially with a book that feels different, sounds different in your head.  Some people don’t like that change, and that’s okay.  But I wasn’t prepared for so many people saying  that they LOVED the writing style.  They embraced it, and I’m so happy about that.  It’s unbelievable still, nearly a year later and with FADE
about to come out, that I continue to get multiple fan letters every day  from people who just discovered WAKE and are so moved to write to me.  That’s freaking awesome and I’ve been in severe author shock all this time.

Maw Books:  What is it like to write a series?  Do you know how it’s going to end or does it evolve as you go along?

Lisa McMann: It’s hard keeping track of little details.  Thankfully there are amazing copyeditors who know things like “we spelled ‘Jeez’ with a ‘G’ in WAKE,” and “Ethel was a 1977 Nova in WAKE, you have her as 1978 in FADE…” stuff like that.  As far as the ending, I know how some major things are going to turn out, and I use those things as a guide point, so I know where I’m heading.  But much of the stuff that happens is spontaneous.  That’s just how I write. I don’t do long, detailed outlines, because  that just makes the book feel very stale and rehearsed to me when I’m actually sitting down to write.

Maw Books:  Do you see any of yourself in any of your characters?

Lisa McMann: Sure. I’d go so far as to say there’s a little bit of me in each of the main characters — Janie, Cabe, Carrie, Captain, Miss Stubin.  But it’s a very little bit.  Maybe a tiny something that came from a memory.  For instance, when Cabe is at the bus stop in WAKE, with his too-short jeans.  Which says so much, doesn’t it?  That came from something inside of me — a flash, a memory of a mortifying moment in my own past.

Maw Books:  What is it like being a Cybils finalist? And how do you think bloggers are making a difference in book publicity?

Lisa McMann: It’s really awesome and I never thought I’d EVER see myself on a list with Neil Gaiman.  How freaking cool is that? And let me just say — bloggers are the saviors of books, especially the YA group.  Because 80-90% of teens and YA book readers are online every day. (I just totally made that up — ha!  But I bet it’s accurate, and hey, I write fiction, so there you go).   I am dead serious, though, when I say that bloggers are the answer to spreading the word about good books, and you guys do an amazing job.  I’m so impressed and so doggone grateful for your hard work and efforts.  If we were in this downturn of the  economy, with publishers spending less on advertising, and we didn’t have you guys, we authors would be in crisis mode.  So.  Thank you, bloggers.  You rule the interwebs.  You deserve to be knighted so you can get into parties with people like Elton John and Sir Robin from Monty Python’s Quest for the Grail.  I shall now call you Sir Bloggers.

Maw Books:  We’ve been knighted.  Those are kind words, thank you.  What are some of your favorite experiences so far from book signings, school visits, interviews, and other promotional activities for Wake and Fade.

Lisa McMann: There have been so many!!  On my WAKE tour, I arrived at Treehouse Books in Holland, Michigan after a long flight and too little sleep, to find a wonderful gift that had been sent by a sweet fan — flowers, chocolate, a Teddy bear — it was such a surprise.   I also loved it when teens showed up to signings with their own decorated WAKE clothing.   School visits were awesome — I remember one particular school in Naperville, IL, where I spoke with a good sized group of students (maybe 100 or so) who were all so interested in the arts, writing and illustrating and film and technology — and they had fabulous classes that I’d never imagined in high school before.  I loved hanging out with them and I wish every high school offered such a variety of classes.

Maw Books:  Tell us a bit about the Fund Your Dreams contest.

Lisa McMann: It’s an essay contest for U.S. teens ages 14-18. 500 words or less, answering the question, “What is the greatest obstacle you have overcome?”  The prize is $1000 to help a teen fund a dream — in honor of Janie and the opportunity she is given in WAKE. The official rules are on my website.  I’m totally aware of the burden that some teens have to carry for their families.  It’s tough times out there.  And I’m glad to have the chance to team up with Simon & Schuster to give back a little to the community that has shown me so much support over the past year.

Maw Books:  Who are some of your favorite authors?   And a few books that you think
nobody should miss?

Lisa McMann: This changes daily.  I’m always reading good stuff.  I love Chris Crutcherand Sara Zarrand Melissa Walker, Lisa Schroeder and Elizabeth Scott too (you should check out the Pulse Spring Fling Contest I’m doing with them, too).  I recently read THE PARTON SAINT OF BUTTERFLIES by Cecilia Galante and I loved it.  I’m currently reading DOES THIS BOOK MAKE ME LOOK FAT?  An anthology of stories and essays by some major authors about body image, self-hate, self-love, and not just for girls/women.  Also, THE DUST OF 100 DOGS by A.S. King is such a lovely, powerful book.  I was so moved when I read the manuscript last year, and I can’t wait to read the book again.  Just picked up a copy!

Maw Books:  I read a lot of great books this past year by many of those same authors.  I enjoyed them all.  I’ll have to look into The Dust of 100 Dogs.  Do you have any reading traditions with your family and kids?   How do you instill a love of reading in them and keep them excited about reading?

Lisa McMann: We haven’t done this in a while because the kids are older and everyone is everywhere now, but we used to sit together and read all the time.  One of our family favorite novels is GOODNIGHT, MR. TOM by Michelle Magorian.  I think reading aloud when kids are young is a great way to start a ritual, and instill that love, but it’s still possible to have a reluctant reader despite that.  My son (he’s 15) loves to read, but until recently my 12-yr-old daughter has been very reluctant.  She’d simply rather be doing something else. But we kept trying new books, looking for the one that would hook her.  Finally, it was CATHY’S BOOK that convinced her reading can be fun — because it was interactive.  We never drove so fast to the bookstore until it came time to find the sequel, CATHY’S KEY.  After that, it was one of the amazing Maureen Johnson’s books that captured her — 13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES.  I’ll always have a special spot in my heart for those books.  And when someone writes to me and says, “WAKE was the book that got my son/daughter to like reading,” it means SOO much, because I have been there with my own child.

Maw Books:  What do you do outside the world of books?

Lisa McMann: I like to cook.  I play Wii.  I like being home, playing on Twitter or Facebook or just hanging around watching reality TV or movies with my family.  I’m pretty low-key.

Maw Books:  So you love reality shows.  Which ones are your favorites?

Lisa McMann: Depends what’s on at the moment, but we have a family ritual with Survivor.  We’ve been watching that show since my 12-yr-old was 4.  Thursday night is sacred Survivor night, and we watch faithfully, even if the season sucks.  Which I’m sure is exactly what the producer wants us to do.  So we obey.  We like the cooking shows, The Amazing Race, Project Runway.

Maw Books:  One of my favorite features on my blog is to ask authors to share with us a favorite recipe with us and I try to make it later.  Would you care to share?

Lisa McMann:  I do have a sausage/chicken chili recipe I designed that won a contest once. Or a recipe for the silkiest chicken corn chowder you can imagine.  Which would you prefer?

Maw Books:  Let’s go with the chili recipe.  Sounds great for the cold weather I’m experiencing!

Lisa McMann:

Lisa’s Prize-winning Chicken & Sausage Chili
(I won a spice rack)

5 cloves garlic, diced
1 green pepper, chopped fine
1 yellow/brown onion, diced
Juice of 1-2 limes (+/- to taste)

¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. chili powder
1 heaping Tbsp. ground cumin
3-4 tsp. sea salt
(blend the above 3 spices together in one container)
1/4 cup white sugar (+/- to taste)
Onion salt and ground cayenne red pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
Dash or three of hot sauce if you like that

1-2 bottles beer (microbrewed, amber or pale ale for more flavor)

5 slow-roasted chicken breasts, diced or pulled (skin and bones removed, duh)
1.5 lbs. mild sausage

4 cans diced tomatoes, 14.5 oz. (drain one or two cans for thicker chili or to allow you to add more beer)
2 cans diced tomatoes with mild chiles, 14.5 oz. can
2 cans diced tomatoes with roasted garlic, 14.5 oz. can
1 can tomato sauce, 15 oz.
1 can tomato paste, 6-8 oz.

Just mix it all together over medium heat and then turn it down, let it simmer for as long as you want, the longer the better.  Tastes great with a little sharp cheddar and spoonful of sour cream on top.

This makes a huge pot of chili. For smaller amounts, divide the recipe in half.

Maw Books:  I love recipes that say “just mix it all together.”  My kind of cooking.  And congrats on the spice rack win.  ;)   After the completion of this series what can your fans look forward to next?

Lisa McMann: That’s a great question, and I don’t actually know the answer quite yet.  I hope to know soon, though, and I’m sure I’ll announce it on my blog  and website when the time comes.  Whatever it is, I hope you’ll enjoy it!

Maw Books:  I’m sure we will!  Thank you so much for stopping by.  I had so much fun!

If you haven’t read Wake yet, I’d highly recommend you do before Fade comes out in just a couple short weeks.  And if you have, then I’m sure you’re eagerly awaiting Fade. Lisa McMann’s website, blog, on Twitter, on Facebook.


  1. I am so jealous that you got to interview Lisa McMann. That is just too cool. Thanks, I love reading anything about the Wake series. Do you happen to know how many books are planned?

    on January 23rd, 2009 at 3:19 pm
  2. I have heard such good things about this book and I am definitely adding it to my To Read list. Good interview!

    on January 23rd, 2009 at 4:48 pm
  3. Lisa McMann rocks, and I CANNOT WAIT ANY LONGER for FADE!!!

    on January 23rd, 2009 at 6:17 pm
  4. You never fail to amaze me; great interview!

    on January 23rd, 2009 at 10:54 pm
  5. This was a wonderful interview, Natasha. Thanks for sharing!

    on January 24th, 2009 at 5:55 am
  6. What a great interview!

    on January 24th, 2009 at 6:49 am
  7. Great interview! I haven’t read either of her books, but I do have Cathy’s Book in the TBR and this makes me want to read it.

    on January 24th, 2009 at 6:51 am
  8. Shannon – There will be three books.

    Daisy – Yay!

    A.S. King – Thanks for stopping by! I’d love to read your book and do an interview. I just *cough* need a copy. :)

    Shelly, Joy, Marta, and Lisa – Thanks!

    on January 25th, 2009 at 11:29 am
  9. I linked to your interview in the review of Wake and Fade I just posted here:

    on February 13th, 2009 at 2:53 pm
  10. i love all your book dey are great keep more coming cause im buying !!

    on December 8th, 2009 at 11:34 am
  11. [...] December.  Recently, Lisa McMann was also gracious enough to give readers of the Maw Books Blog an author interview and talk about both Wake and [...]

    on August 29th, 2010 at 11:54 pm

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